(Trusted collaborator or annoying schoolmarm? Experiences with Editors.)

“The covers of this book are too far apart.”

Apologies in advance for what will be a short post. I really don’t have much to contribute to this thread, simply because I’ve only had one thing commercially published – my novel FAITH, published on January 3, the date of my first Night Bazaar post – and so I’ve only had one set of dealings with one editor, Jeremy Lassen. It was unexpectedly painless, but more of that later.

Going back a stage, I should mention the edits suggested by my agent, Jason Yarn of Paradigm. They were very perceptive, and tightened the book while leaving most of it intact. Maybe Jason’s feel for what FAITH was about explains my (so far) only interaction with an editor.

Jason had always been at pains to warn me about the editorial battles I’d have when (he always said When, not If) a publisher took my book. The edits a publisher would demand, he said, would make his edits look like the mere dabbings of a powder-puff. I was conscious that FAITH was already of more-than-average length, and that I was a totally unknown debut novelist. So when Nightshade came in, I mentally girded my loins and made ready to hear something like the remark used above as the title of this post (it’s attributed to Ambrose Bierce).

And then the unexpected happened. I got a short note from Jeremy Lassen, via Jason. It began “Not much to cut here”, and went on to outline, in only two or three paragraphs, suggestions for enhancing the book in some very specific ways. His Editorial Letter, when I finally got it after a period of some anxiety, did no more and no less than his original note had said it would. Some of his suggestions actually involved additions, not deletions. All of them made perfect sense. The net effect was that FAITH was only about 500 words shorter.

I’ve already thanked Jason and Jeremy privately, and I’m glad to repeat it publicly.